UM-Dearborn men’s hockey team had a historic run that was cut just short of a national championship. They did, however, win their first ever Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference regular season championship.
The team was ranked No. 2 overall in the ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) practically all season long that also included a 17-game win streak.
Their season started strong, as they went on a ten game tear. In doing so, they took on some very tough competition that also included a 12-0 beatdown against Utah.
The Wolverines closed out the season No. 2 overall, and Senior forward Tyler Groat got his 100th goal in a Wolverine uniform.
Their successful regular season for the Wolverines earned them the WHAC Tournament No. 1 overall, which included a first round bye.
In the second round, they took on the Blue Devils of Lawrence Tech and prevailed 4-1 to earn a date the Warriors of Indiana Tech in the Championship game. The Wolverines, however, couldn’t crack the Warriors’ goaltender, who who robbed the Wolverines several times throughout the game in route to their 5-2 win-becoming WHAC Tournament Champions.
Despite failing to win the WHAC tournament, they still earned a first-round bye in the ACHA tournament.
In their first match-up, they defeated the No. 15 Oklahoma Sooners and won the game 6-1 in the round of 16.
Next up the Wolverines took down the Davenport Panthers 6-4 in a highly contested game, which led them to the surging team from Iowa State in the Semifinals.
The Cyclones of Iowa State were ranked No. 5 and showed it in this game. They went up 1-0 early on a fluke goal. Groat responded with two goals of his own putting the Wolverines up 2-1.
This is how it would stay until late third period when the Cyclones tied it up sending it to overtime and finally to double overtime. The Wolverines had plenty of great chances including several crossbar hits by Groat, who was on fire the entire tournament.
The Cyclones eventually won the game 3-2, ending the Wolverines impressive record setting season at 30-4-1 overall and 9-1 in the WHAC.
The Wolverines as a team were saddened by their tournament loss and the long bus trip home without the trophy. Especially saddened were the seniors who had laced up their skates for the final time in a UM-Dearborn uniform. Captain Kevin Bechard, Tyler Groat, Christian Ramage, Andrew Spiegel, Troy Saunders, Tyler Dalton, and John Barlow were the leaders of this team and truly pushed this program to new heights.
The leaders for the Wolverines on the ice were led by team standout sophomore forward Billy Brock who had 17 goals, 53 assists, and recorded 70 points. Next was Groat who put in an impressive 46 goals, had 20 assists, and recorded 66 points.
Junior forward Justin Dunn put in 27 goals, had 31 assists, and recorded 58 points. Senior forward Andrew Spiegel had 22 goals, 31 assists, and finished with 53 points. Finally, senior forward Kevin Bechard added 21 goals, 28 assists, and had 49 points.
The leader of the defense was clearly junior goalkeeper Thomas Proudlock who had another stellar year, as he played the majority of the time for the Wolverines finishing with a 27-3-1 record. He made 723 saves, he allowed only 53 goals giving him a 1.88 goals against average and a .932 saves percentage. He beat out the opponents average of .858 percent. Proudlock will be a force next season for the Wolverines as he enters his senior season.
This Wolverine team also racked up the acclaim and awards with their fantastic play this season. Billy Brock, Tyler Groat, and Justin Dunn were all named offensive players of the week in the WHAC this year. John Ames, Troy Saunders, and Thomas Proudlock were named defensive players of the week in the WHAC this year. Coach Chris Haltiner was also honored as he was named coach of the year in the WHAC. Sophomore forward Dawson Richards was named new comer of the year and Tyler Groat was named player of the year.
Brock, Proudlock, Groat, and Saunders were also named to the WHAC All Conference First team. Justin Dunn and Conor Cunningham were named to the WHAC All Conference Second Team.
The Wolverines will be losing the seniors but will have a ton of talent and be a younger team in 2019-20 as they have some very talented players like Brock, Dunn, and Proudlock that will pick this team up and continue the long standing tradition that is UM-Dearborn men’s ice hockey and the winning spirit it has long represented.